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Tag Archives: Pistol Shrimp

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Yasha Haze Gobies – the Stars of My Nano Reef Aquarium

Hey everyone, Sam here. Nano tanks are a really popular trend in the aquarium hobby.  The first tank that I’ve ever owned was a 20 high.  Since then, I’ve continued to go smaller and smaller, with each endeavor ( to a 10 gallon then a 2.5 gallon).  Nano tanks are fun and can be set up almost anywhere!  Smaller tanks are cheaper to set up, but not necessarily easier to take care of, especially when you have a busy schedule. 

Yasha haze gobyOne of my favorite fish in the aquarium hobby is the Yasha-Haze Goby (Stonogobiops yasha).  The Yasha-Haze Goby is a small fish that only gets about 2 inches long.  It is white with red stripes going down the sides and yellow translucent fins. Magnificent!  It has a very large first dorsal ray, which extends over an inch high.  The goby feeds on small meaty foods such as mysis shrimp or copepods.  In a well established tank, it will be able to find a good food supply just from copepods, but regular feeding will keep it in great health.  The Yasha-Haze Goby has an interesting behavior of paring up with a small pistol shrimp.  The pistol shrimp will help dig a burrow while the goby stands guard.  Once the burrow is dug, the pistol shrimp will hide down in the burrow and the goby will swim right outside of the burrow.  The shrimp will keep one of its antenna on the goby and if there is any sign of trouble the shrimp will know instantly and retreat further back into the burrow.  In return for building the burrow, the goby will gather food and bring it to the shrimp.  The best shrimp to use is the Randall’s Pistol Shrimp (Alpheus randalli).  These both work great in small tanks and are awesome as the primary occupants of a nano tank!

Randalls shrimpBoth of these animals are interesting in their own respect, but when paired up they can become an amazing sight to watch.  The key to helping these animals pair up if they are not purchased together is patience.  Allow them time to find each other and set up a burrow.  If they are not disturbed during this time, the patience will be rewarded ten fold as you watch them interact together in one of the most interesting ways. 

 Best of luck,


Pistol Shrimp & Goby Mutualism

Pistol ShrimpBrandon here. Some of my favorite saltwater organisms are the pistol shrimp. There are several hundred species of these shrimp found throughout the world. They are not only found in tropical reefs but closer to home. I have heard these little guys snapping away in muddy areas right offshore in Virginia. Despite the characteristic that gives these creatures their name, snapping shrimp are usually peaceful little critters and interesting additions to a reef tank.

Pistol shrimps belong to the family Alpheidae. They are characterized by their one large claw responsible for the snapping sound they produce. These shrimp are usually known for their mutualistic relationship with certain gobies. The shrimp will dig and tend to a burrow in a sandy or muddy substrate while the goby stands guard at the entrance, watching for prey and predators. The shrimp will even close the entrance to the burrow at night to keep predators out. There are also colonial species of shrimp that live in sponges, somewhat like ants in an anthill.

What makes pistol shrimp fascinating is their enlarged claw. The closing of the claw in itself does not produce the snapping sound. Rather there is a groove in the claw which channels water out as it closes. The water is forced out at around 60 miles per hour. This speed produces an area of low pressure and forms a bubble. When the bubble collapses, intense sound, heat, and even light are produced. This is where the snapping sound that we hear comes from. Temperatures of about 5000 degrees Kelvin, or about 8500 degrees Fahrenheit, can be reached. This blast of pressure is enough to kill small fish and invertebrates. The snapping shrimp is considered one of the loudest creatures in the ocean, and large colonies of them are loud enough to white out the sonar of submarines.

To give you a better idea of what this all looks like (or just to see a shrimp get blasted) watch this video:

Until next time,